How are Ruger GP100s more durable than S&Ws?


February 15, 2011, 02:25 PM
When comparing Rugers to S&Ws, I've always heard that S&Ws have a better trigger and finish, but that Rugers are more rugged and durable. Anyone else always hear that? What is it about the Ruger design that makes it a hardier firearm?

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February 15, 2011, 03:10 PM
The reasoning I've always heard is that Ruger revolvers are over-engineered compared to S&W. Kind of like a HMMWV (Ruger) versus a H1 Hummer (S&W).

That being said, I own an SP101 and the only thing out there about them is that they are little tanks; I've not heard of one cracked forcing cone using SAMMI spec hot 125 grain .357 loads which is incredible. The GP100 can have forcing cone issues with those same rounds if fed a regular diet of the stuff, but rest assured it encounters those problems long after the S&W would have had those same issues.

Ruger's revolvers are incredible for the prices, though it's recommended in the SP101 to get the 10# Wolff hammerspring to even out the trigger pull, not sure about GP100 or others.

February 15, 2011, 03:13 PM
Rugers use coil springs throughout that last much longer, Smith has a few flat springs that seem to make the pull smoother. Also the forcing cone appears slightly thicker. Generally Rugers have more metal on board than Smiths. Smiths are like race horses and Rugers are draft horses.136408

February 15, 2011, 03:45 PM
I'm no gunsmith, but based on my observation, I see S&Ws having 2 weak links Rugers don't share:

Smith's use a single yoke screw to hold the cylinder/crane assembly to the frame. Remove the screw, and the cylinder & crane simply slide off the front of the gun. Unfortunately, hard use (e.g. from lots of reloads) can bend the screw, especially newer guns that use a screw/spring-loaded plunger assembly. Bend enough, and the cylinder won't close, or will even fall off the gun.

Also, the front of the cylinder assembly in Smiths are locked at the front end of the ejector rod, relatively far from where the strain is being applied. Also, unlike the Ruger, Smith ejector rods also turn as the cylinder turns. If the ejector rod gets bent a bit, it may have trouble locking up, and/or affect the trigger pull as it binds on its retaining plunger during rotation.

Serious competitive revolvers shooters aside, I suspect that neither of these is ever an issue for most, though.

Rugers have more metal on board than Smiths.

Ruger frames are cast, whereas S&W frames are forged, so it's a bit of apples & oranges. Thicker cast vs thinner forged may come to the line together, but I'm not enough of a metallurgist to say either way. Nonetheless, this debate continues, though I suspect differences in metallurgic strength aren't enough of a real issue for most to worry about.

February 15, 2011, 03:48 PM
Rugers are far more heavily constructed. Compare the thickness of the cylinder walls next time you're in a shop.
"...Smith has a few flat springs..." Only the mainspring. Colt's, specially older Colt revolvers, have several. Even Pythons.
Any new revolver requires a trigger job due to frivolous law suits. Makes no difference who made it.

February 15, 2011, 03:49 PM
No side plate on the Ruger.

February 15, 2011, 04:31 PM
The cylinder bolt and the pawl are both over built on Rugers and tend to last longer. The notches are also offset and therefore can be deeper without compromising the cylinder's strength. This leads to a stronger cylinder and longer wearing notches without increasing the weight of the cylinder.

They also the lockup at the crane and have more bearing surface inside the cylinder where endshake could batter things.

Among many other durability improvements. They are well engineered guns if the design philosophy was focused on durability.

February 15, 2011, 05:05 PM
Ruger gets my vote ~ SP101 .357!

Very well built ~ disassembles easily ~ super trigger with 9# or 10# Wolff spring. Ours is totally reliable with the 9# spring, some reported having to go to 10#. The wife loves it now and is getting deadly with the DA action. She practices with .38 Special and Carries .38 +P.

Considering price, durability, accuracy, attractive SS, the Ruger gets our vote.

February 15, 2011, 08:02 PM
I think the sheer weight helps longevity by absorbing recoil.

But that weight also has it`s drawbacks also , carrying the extra weight needs consideration of good belts & holsters !! & Ruger says "dry firing" is ok but think of those big heavy parts , getting em started & stopped takes it`s toll !!!

The Rugers I could shoot all day !!!

The Smith&Wesson Revolvers are built more refined in overall designs of the frame (liter & has a plate) generally the barrels are liter , meaning recoil is transfered more to the shooter & I just can`t shoot a S&W all day ! & if I did I would need to stop & titen the side plate screws ( The GP100 has only 3screws ,2 sight adjustment & 1grip screw & if all three fell out the revolver would still run)

Are Rugers immune to problems ???? No !! But NONE are !!

It comes to a personal liking or price or features of a certain firearm or firearms .

I`ve shot abunch different kinds from all 3 companies ,The Rugers stay !!!

But I`m not BIASED I like all Rugers

February 15, 2011, 08:25 PM
I know this is about the GP, but do a Google search about the torture test Ruger put a SP thru. They ran 5k hot .125 grain magnums thru it only stopping long enough to reload and dunk the gun in a bucket of water to cool it down. At the end, they spec'd and and found no wear, frame stretching, ect.

February 15, 2011, 08:33 PM
anybody remember these revoler wars commercials in the 1980's

The S&W L-Frame(586/686) was designed to handle a stead diet of full house .357 magnum loads.

Either one is plenty strong.


February 15, 2011, 08:37 PM
In reality, an good .357 should handle a steady diet of magnums and likely will. I've never seen a warning in an owner's manual warning you to limit the number of rounds you put thru one.

February 15, 2011, 08:59 PM
The big things about the Ruger design that makes it stronger than the S&W are:

1. Solid Frame, No sideplate
2. Off-set bolt notches...cut between the chambers where there is more metal than directly over the chamber
3. Better lockup of the yoke into the frame at the front of the cylinder
4. Coil spring powered action

The Lone Haranguer
February 15, 2011, 09:01 PM
Heavier construction overall with thicker metal in highly stressed areas (e.g., the forcing cone), solid frame with no sideplate, front cylinder lockup directly on the crane/yoke instead of way out on the end of the ejector rod. In fact, the GP100's ejector rod does not even turn with the cylinder.

February 15, 2011, 10:35 PM

Yeah, the Ruger is thicker, INVESTMENT CAST steel

the S&W is FORGED steel

The S&W is also smoother, better action, better looking and higher resale value.

February 15, 2011, 10:45 PM
No side plate on the Ruger.

The key that everyone misses. Weird how a revolver enthusiast can over-look this design feature and the strength it adds. It's the same reason single action frames are stronger. There is no side plate, two sided frame bearing the loads.

Personally, I consider the little SP101 stronger than an L frame. I have done no torture testing, though, couldn't afford the ammunition it'd take to break either one.

I do prefer Rugers. I won't buy a new production Smith. Older Smiths if the price is right, but I will buy NEW production Rugers. Far more for my dollar with a Ruger IMHO and a fine weapon. I still miss my SP101, need to replace that one.

February 15, 2011, 10:47 PM
5K rounds of hot 125 gr. loads will eat the forcing cone out of any make of revolver. It might not hurt the frame but it'll toast the first inch of bore. I pretty much burned a forcing cone up on a GP 100 and it took a lot less than 5 k rounds to do it. Maybe 500. Back to the OP's question, Rugers are extremely overbuilt machines compared to S&W's level of construction. The S&W will have a nicer trigger pull than a Ruger. They're both very good firearms. It's hard to beat Ruger's pricing considering their quality.

February 15, 2011, 10:50 PM
Hmmm.....I have a Colt King Cobra that has seen no less than 20k rounds in the past 20 years. Not all of those were 125's, but I'd guess it's seen several thousand hot 125 grain loads. As a matter of fact, the Blue Dot load that Alliant now advices us not to use it what it saw the most of. The forcing cone in that gun hasn't been "eaten"....A burned up cone in 500? My gun's seen nearly that many this year so far. Heck, I just loaded up 1k 125's last week. I don't plan on not shooting them.

February 15, 2011, 10:54 PM
I shoot mostly 165 grain gas checked SWC over 14.5 grains 2400. I don't like the 125s. I carry 140s, feel they perform better out of a short 3" barrel. Check that, I KNOW they perform better, have chronograph to prove it.

I don't know if hot 125s hurt forcing cones or not and I will never know. :D

February 15, 2011, 11:07 PM
ruger is like that idea you had a long time ago. "why don't they just make EVERY part of the gun strong, not just a few parts?" they took that idea and made all of their guns with that in mind.

also they have AMAZING customer service. when i sent my revovler in, they had ups come by and pick it up, they paid for everything. also i had the flu at the time and the customer service rep noticed i was sick, and gave me a few new hampshire remedies for it lol. they fix whatever is wrong with it. some of the things weren't things that were wrong but just things that bothered me, they fixed all the little rattles and noises it made.

ruger's guns are just built to last longer.

John Wayne
February 15, 2011, 11:09 PM
Smiths get the reputation for "weak" guns because of the K frame .357 mags. The K frame was originally designed for the .38 SPL and beefed up for the .357 Mag. The problem area was a thin spot on the bottom of the forcing cone, which was rumored to crack if shot for extended periods with hot 125 gr. loads.

Ruger's eqivalent to the K frame was the Speed/Security/Service Six line, which was beefier. Both the S&W K frame magnums and the Ruger S/S/S Six lines have been discontinued.

Currently, Ruger makes the SP101 in .357 Mag, equivalent to the S&W J frame .357 mag. Either of these guns will stand up to all the full-house magnum loads you can tolerate shooting through them (which will probably be about ten).

The GP-100 is equivalent to an L-frame S&W, like the 686. Neither of these guns has a reputation for shooting loose.

Ruger also made a Redhawk in .357, and S&W builds some .357s on their (roughly) equivalent N frame. Both are more than adequate; the difference here is that with S&W you can get 8 shots and it doesn't handle like a boat anchor.

Bottom line? GP-100s are not more durable than a comparable S&W. The models that gave S&W a reputation for being weak are out of production, as are Ruger's competitive model.

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